[Nfbnet-members-list] Blind drivers test out vehicle at VIR Source: WSLS 10 (Roanoke, Virginia)

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Fri Jan 21 03:17:38 UTC 2011

The following article about the Blind Driver 
Challenge™ was published yesterday on a Roanoke, 
Virginia news site. This is the first of several 
important e-mails about the Rolex 24 At Daytona 
event that will be sent in the next few days as 
Race Day (Saturday, January 29) approaches.  Please stay tuned.

Blind drivers test out vehicle at VIR
Source:  WSLS 10 (Roanoke, Virginia)

By <http://www2.godanriver.com/staff/50988/>TARA BOZICK
Published: January 19, 2011

Lewis lost his sight, he sorely missed driving.

Now, technology and innovation allow 
to drive again, as he did at Virginia International Raceway on Wednesday.

“For me, driving again is a very awesome 
experience,” said 
of strategic communications for the 
Federation of the Blind.

He and the 
can’t wait for tens of thousands of people to 
witness a blind 
demonstration as part of the pre-race activities 
of the Rolex 24 at 
International Speedway at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 29. 
That’s what the research team and drivers were 
practicing for at VIR this past week.

“Hardly anybody else in the world believes this 
is even possible,” said 
director of the NFB’s 
Institute. “Because we believe it’s possible, 
we’re working on it and found the brightest minds 
who believed in it and are working on it to make it possible.”

The vision that one day blind people would drive 
independently started with 
In 2004, the organization called on innovative 
technology as part of its 
Driver Challenge.

So far, 
Tech with its Robotics and 
Laboratory is the only university to step up and 
take on the challenge to develop 
driver “interfaces” or tools, like gloves that 
send vibrations to tell drivers how to steer.

hopes more universities will get involved now 
that one hurdle was jumped ­ developing the 
vehicle or “vehicle research platform” ­ that 
could integrate the non-visual interfaces and 
test out ideas on how the car could communicate 
with blind drivers. That vehicle was developed by 
a spin-off company 
Tech specializing in unmanned vehicles and 

developed a ByWire XGV (drive-by-wire) vehicle 
using a 
Escape Hybrid, said 
Hurdus. The collaborative team completed two prototypes vehicles.

Tech team, led by graduate student Paul D’Angio 
Hong (director of the robotics lab), developed a 
SpeedStrip and DriveGrip as interfaces.

driver sits on the SpeedStrip to communicate 
through the back and legs whether 
driver needs to speed up or brake. The DriveGrip 
is a pair of gloves that vibrates which direction 
to turn and also to what degree depending on the 
finger. For instance, if the vibration is on the 
pinky finger, that means 
driver should make a sharp turn.

D’Angio wanted to take on a project that would 
help society. The “ear-to-ear” smiles of blind 
drivers taking the vehicle for a spin also fuel his passion.

hope these efforts can help blind people gain 
more access to jobs or other activities. They 
believe driving is just the beginning of the uses for this kind of technology.

Most of all, they would like to shatter 
misconceptions people have about the abilities of 
blind people. 
continually pushes the horizons of independence 
and its 50,000 members are counting on 
Blind Driver Challenge.

“We want to prove blind people can drive,” 
said. “Where it takes us from there, that’s the fun part of the drive.”

Learn more

For more information about the Blind Drive 
Challenge and to get updates on the Daytona 
demonstration, visit www.blinddriverchallenge.org.

For more info on Virginia Tech’s Robotics and 
Laboratory, visit www.romela.org.

For info on 
visit www.torctech.com.

For more info on the 
Federation of the Blind, visit www.nfb.org.
Link to article: 
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